Where on earth did September go?! The end of it appeared to have been replaced by the Summer we didn't get in June. October is here, which means my annual spooky reads month (I say annual - I did it last year for the first time), so here's my September roundup, I got through 11 books and one short story.
Rick O'Shea Book Club
I had already read one of the choices, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. The other choice was The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacks, and I could only read about a quarter of the way in before I had to stop, there was just too much medical jargon and I couldn't understand half of it. So I had no book club choice this month!
Richard and Judy Book Club
The Well by Catherine Chanter
I read one book from the Richard and Judy Autumn picks (you can find them on my book page here), the cover and title caught my eye immediately and I wanted to read it. Unfortunately it wasn't exactly as spooky or as thrilling as I thought - a couple move to an idyllic home in the remote countryside during a three-year long drought in Britain, only to discover that theirs is the only site in the world with water. Sounds dystopian and futuristic, but the drought wasn't even necessary to the plot. It was alright, but it was more of a look at a marriage and how it's affected by loneliness, grief and tragedy.
I requested lots of books from Netgalley after reading a few previews, I didn't think I'd get approval for the half of them but I did - leaving me with a case of both the guilts and pressure. I do this every single time I get my dashboard down to 3 or 4, I can't help myself. This month, I read three review copies.
Bream Gives Me Hiccups & Other Stories by Jesse Eisenberg
I'm not a fan of actor Jesse Eisenberg, but I wanted to read this collection of short stories based on a sample of the first in the collection, Restaurant Reviews From a Priviliged Nine Year Old. It was funny, witty, and full of social commentary. Sadly, the book went a bit downhill from there. This is along the same lines as David Sedaris' fictional short stories, but nowhere near as funny. My Roommate Stole My Ramen was good, it was more my kind of humour - dark, politically incorrect, black comedy. This definitely won't be for everyone. I LOVE David Sedaris and even I'm not always a fan of his fiction, so I don't think this stuff always works.
One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot
My first Christmas book of the year so far! I loved this so much. It was a story about a single mother and her nine-year old daughter going to New York City for Christmas. The mother overhears the daughter wish to meet her real father, and this is the real reason for the trip - Hayley is determined to find Angel's real Dad, but she meets Oliver, a billionaire CEO (a nice non-violent non-stalky version of Christian Grey). I just really enjoyed it, it was sweet without being twee. I don't think I rolled my eyes once!
Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania Del Rio
I know that this will have fantastic illustrations by Will Staehle, but my review copy was unfinished in that respect. This is a story for 8-12 year olds about a young boy named Warren who lives in his family hotel and has to find a treasure before his power obsessed Aunt finds it first. With a host of likeable characters and great villains, this was really enjoyable and I'll be picking up a finished copy for my eldest son for Christmas. Reminiscent of Coraline by Neil Gaiman or some of Sebastian Gregory's stories.
I'm trying to make an effort to clear some of the backlog of paperback books that I own, but for every one I read I seem to buy two more. Anyway - I read three paperbacks in September.
Her by Harriet Lane
I had such huge hopes for this one. It was sold as a thriller, a psychological page turner in which one woman stalks another - both have met before, but one doesn't remember. What it actually was, was a lukewarm portfolio of a psychopath who had no reason to stalk a woman she barely knew. The reason for the stalking was just ludicrous, the character Nina had major issues but nothing was really resolved or properly explained. I just didn't like this at all - I swore at the ending and flung the book across the room. How melodramatic am I? Shite.
Revival by Stephen King
A return to old-school King with this one. It follows one man through 60 years of his life, and documents his various dealings with a mysterious minister he first meets as a child. It's a great look at how one person can have such an influence on the lives of others, but it's also Stephen King - so it is gross in places. It's one of his small-town American twisty slow tales that culminates in an ending you really don't want to think too much about afterwards.
The Children Act by Ian McEwan
I've never read anything by Ian McEwan before, and after reading very mixed reviews on this book, I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the story of High Court Judge Fiona and her crumbling marriage, interspersed with details of the various cases she must rule on. I HATED the direction it took about 3/4 of the way into the story, I thought that was highly unlikely, unbelievable, and made Fiona look silly. But overall it was a good read.
You Must Read This
Louise O'Neill is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. This is her second book. Her first, Only Ever Yours, was released last year and was one of my top books of 2014.
Asking For It by Louise O'Neill
Emma is a teenager, she's beautiful, she's popular - but she's not particularly likeable. She's not a good friend, she has a mean streak, and she uses people to get what she wants. One night, she goes to a party. The next morning, there are graphic pictures of her all over the internet. Was she asking for it? Will anyone believe Emma didn't have it coming to her? This examines jock culture in Ireland as well as rape culture and it's just heartbreaking. It's not an enjoyable read - but it is an important one.
I didn't enjoy either of these books - just personal taste, both have many excellent reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, they just weren't my cup of tea at all.
There's No Place Like Here by Cecelia Ahern
Also called A Place Called Here, this is a story about a woman who is obsessed with finding lost things. Until one day - she herself becomes lost, and ends up in a place with lots of other lost things. I had a huge issue with this book - the relationship of the main character with her therapist. I felt it was inappropriate and it led to me not enjoying the rest of the book. I find Cecelia's writing very hit and miss for me but I'll still probably read the ones I haven't read because I like her ideas.
He's the Man by M. Malone
This was free on Kindle, I think it was one of the BookBub offers. It wasn't great, but it's part of a series so I'm sure fans will enjoy. I read it after Revival because I wanted fluffy after the giant ants/all hope is lost thing, and fluff is what I got. Action man Matt is a soldier in need of some anger management and/or the love of a good woman - and that's what he finds in his "formerly pudgy" physical therapist. A good ride fixes everything, apparently.
Zero Hour by Eamon Ambrose
A short but punchy read, this is just over 20 pages on Kindle and it's a cracking little read. It's a post-apocalyptic story about a lone soldier trying to find some sign that humanity isn't extinct. Imagine being the only one left. A nice little ending and definite series potential.
I'm on the Bandwagon
The Martian by Andy Weir
I really want to see the film, so I thought I'd read the book first. I was disappointed by the writing style, it's written in logs - and they get very technical! If you love mathematics and engineering, you'll love this. The sciencey stuff was the stuff of science geek dreams. I found it hard to follow - Astronaut Mark Watney gets accidentally left behind on Mars and immediately seems to have his survival mapped out MacGyver style. I thought I would be more worried about a guy on Mars on his own, but I wasn't. I really liked the main character's sense of humour, he reminded me of a kind of Xander Harris character. The book really picked up for me when we started to get the POV of what was going on down on Earth too, so if you're also finding it slow do stick with it.
And that's it! October will be dedicated to all things spooky, horror and supernatural. Do let me know if you have any good Halloweeny recommendations, particularly things set in Salem or involving witches.